Background Focal prefrontal cortex repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) was originally investigated as a potential antidepressant under the assumption that in depressed patients, prefrontal cortex stimulation would produce changes in connected limbic regions involved in mood regulation. Methods Fourteen adult patients with depression were scanned in a 1.5-T scanner using interleaved rTMS (1 Hz) applied on the left prefrontal cortex over 7.35 min. Images were analyzed with Statistical Parametric Mapping 2b and principal component analysis. Results Over the left prefrontal cortex, 1-Hz TMS was associated with increased activity at the site of stimulation as well as in connected limbic regions: bilateral middle prefrontal cortex, right orbital frontal cortex, left hippocampus, mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus, bilateral putamen, pulvinar, and insula (t = 3.85, p < .001). Significant deactivation was found in the right ventromedial frontal cortex. Conclusions In depressed patients, 1-Hz TMS at 100% motor threshold over the left prefrontal cortex induces activation underneath the coil, activates frontal-subcortical neuronal circuits, and decreases activity in the right ventromedial cortex. Further work is needed to understand whether these immediate changes vary as a function of TMS use parameters (intensity, frequency, location) and whether they relate to neurobiologic effects and antidepressant mechanisms of TMS.
- Brain networks
- Limbic system
- Prefrontal cortex
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation